CLAW clinic rescues 16 neglected greyhounds

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A few weeks ago, we received a desperate call for help from Greyhound Rescue South Africa. They had received information about a group of Greyhound/Saluki crosses in Soweto that were in incredibly poor condition. The owner had passed away and his surviving family members, who had no permanent income,  were struggling to feed them. The dogs were being kept alive on pap and cooked cabbage, a far from appropriate diet for any dog. There had been 64 dogs, some of which had passed or had been given away before Greyhound Rescue South Africa had been informed.

Dean Bush of Greyhound Rescue South Africa had been in touch with the family and they were willing to part with the dogs. But Greyhound Rescue South Africa does not have facilities to care for so many dogs.

But Dean was desperate to get them out of their situation, so he called Community Led Animal Welfare (CLAW), the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s partner in South Africa .

We very quickly made a plan for space, shuffling some of our own dogs around to open a run to accommodate the Greys.

The sun was setting over our clinic when the first group arrived. We raced against the darkness to get them settled and give them a quick look over to see if there were any urgent conditions that needed immediate attention. Mostly the poor pups suffered pressure sores, some tumours and two had eye issues.

In total, there were 11, their main concern being dinner and a warm, soft place to rest their tired bones. John Marecha, our handyman and go-to person who lives on CLAW’s property, ensured that they received small meals throughout the evening to accommodate their shrunken stomachs. We piled all the kennels high with soft blankets and very quickly, each kennel had a long snout and even longer legs poking out of their entrances.

The following day, after a thorough examination by Dr. Marike Calitz, we determined that there were no serious conditions apart from the two dogs with eye problems.

One of the Lurcher type females had glaucoma and needed to have her left eye removed. She is now with Shelagh Hahn, a local veterinarian and colleague in animal welfare. Shelagh has taken on all of the surgery and care costs for the dog, and she is now thriving.

Apollo, the second dog with eye issues, is partially sighted. Sadly, his condition is irreversible and most likely caused by trauma to his head. He's grown into an incredibly affectionate dog and when hearing my voice, gallops to the fence line to come and greet me. Despite his poor vision, he is managing well and negotiates obstacles with ease. We wait with hopeful hearts for the perfect family to adopt him. Despite his special needs, he has a lot of love and joy to offer.

We were also able to negotiate with the owners to surrender an additional two Greys, Prince (fawn male) and Maya (brindle female). Prince had a very large and hot pressure sore that needed treatment and Maya had a swollen left foreleg, which we treated with the appropriate pain meds and anti-inflammatory medications. Maya was sent to a foster home on the same day and is slowly but surely getting stronger. Her leg is healed and she is gaining weight and growing in confidence daily.

We knew that there were still more dogs at the property but had not been able to see them, so we persisted with the family and again, they agreed to surrender more. We fetched an additional three dogs and brought them back to CLAW, making for a total of 16 dogs moved to safety.

We posted about the Greys on our page and the public’s response has been overwhelming. People's hearts have been broken over the poor condition of the dogs, and we've been receiving a steady stream of visitors for the Greys, all bearing gifts and treats. Even the most reserved of the bunch, a small female Saluki/Greyhound mix, is settling and beginning to approach us, a vast improvement from the day she came.

It's been incredibly heartwarming for us, and the Greys are all slowly filling out and returning to health. Their warm, goofy personalities shine through more each day.

--TW

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